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National Gallery of Australia Opens James Turrell ‘Skyspace’

The National Gallery of Australia unveiled a major new acquisition for the national art collection, Within without, a monumental ‘Skyspace’ installation by renowned American artist James Turrell.

The only work of its kind in Australia, the partly subterranean installation creates an immersive viewing experience that uses space, shape and light to affect the perception of the sky.

James Turrell, Skyspace, National Gallery of Australia

Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia said, “We are thrilled to open this astonishing work, Within without by James Turrell, one of the world’s most visionary artists.”

“The National Gallery of Australia commissioned Within without the largest Skyspace in the southern hemisphere, and now the largest work in the national collection. One of Turrell’s most complex Skyspaces, the sculpture is prominently located in the new Australian Gardens near the new front entrance. Within without will provide an inspiring experience for all visitors to the National Gallery”, said Ron Radford.

Entered via a long sloping walkway, the threshold to Within without opens onto a large square-based pyramid, with red ochre walls. At the centre of the pyramid, a pool of turquoise water flows around a central chamber, a stupa, made from Victorian basalt.

The simple domed space interior has a bench around the edge. The roof is open to the sky which is framed by an oculus. A moonstone, set into the centre of the floor, echoes the aperture above.

Within the installation Turrell reveals his striking centrepiece, the sheer beauty of celestial architecture. Light seems more painterly. Movement and sound are intensified and the sky at times descends into the space.

James Turrell Within without 2010 lighting installation, concrete and basalt stupa, water, earth, landscaping 800 x 2800 x 2800 cm National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased, with the support of visitors to the exhibition Masterpieces from Paris, 2010 Photographs: John Gollings

“My interest is working with light and space; I have always been fascinated with the range of light at different locations around the world. The opportunity to create a Skyspace for the National Gallery of Australia in the clear light of Canberra was not to be missed. Within without offers an unhurried and unique perceptual experience,” said James Turrell.

At dawn and dusk, Within without is at its most dramatic and vibrant. A specially created light show heightens the experience and spaces – within and without – the installation.

James Turrell’s medium is light, perception and spaces. His works are featured in cities all over the world from Salzburg in Austria to Naoshima in Japan as well as many key installations located in galleries and private collections throughout the United States of America. He is best known for his ambitious work-in-progress the Roden Crater, a naked-eye observatory located in a dormant volcano in the Painted Desert of northern Arizona.

Located in the new Australian Garden, the Skyspace will be open for a preview period from Tuesday 17 August to Sunday 22 August from 10:30am to 4:30pm, prior to the opening of the National Gallery of Australia’s larger Stage 1 Building Project in Spring 2010.

Parkes Place, Parkes
Canberra ACT 2600
National Gallery of Australia

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